01.29.08

After Saving Castnet Program, Schumer Works To Save 2 More Crucial Acid Rain Monitoring Programs That Could See Their 2008 Funding Slashed

TIME AND LTM Programs are Vital to Providing Scientists and Policy-Makers with Important Data on Acid Rain in the AdirondacksDespite Both Programs Receiving Funding for 2008, the Bush Administration Could Still Slash Final Funding, Cutting the Legs out of 2 Key Programs for Protecting the Adirondacks Schumer Calls on EPA to Fully Fund Both Programs for 2008

 

One week after U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced his successful efforts in rolling back potentially devastating cuts to a vital antiacid rain monitoring program, the Senator turned his attention to saving two more programs that are essential to protecting the Adirondacks from acid rain. The two programs, the TemporallyIntegrated Monitoring of Ecosystems (TIME) and the LongTerm Monitoring program (LTM), work in conjunction to provide scientists and policymakers with important data on acid rain.  However, the parent program that over sees the monitoring programs saws its overall funding reduced by $1.7 million from FY07 to FY08, endangering the two programs funding.

 

Schumer today called the EPA to fully fund the TIME and LTM programs so they work with the CASTNET program to give scientists and environmentalists the tools the need to adequately stem the effects of acid rain. The Senator is eager to build off his recent success in saving the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET). The federal program also works to combat acid rain across the state and the country by establishing monitoring stations that provide scientists and legislators with detailed information regarding acid rain deposition.

 

"It's vital that we keep momentum on our side and save these two programs that play a huge role in giving our scientists and environmentalists the knowledge they need to protect the Adirondacks from acid rain," said Senator Schumer. "We've already succeeded in saving one program, now it's time to turn our focus on the TIME and LTM programs - all the three combined will provide the tools needed to fight acid rain, which has already decimated too many of New York State's precious parks, lakes and rivers,"

 

The TIME and LTM programs work together to collect data on the prevalence of acid rain throughout the Northeast and MidAtlantic states by examining the acidity of lakes and streams.  The two programs take different statistical approaches to monitoring, and both approaches are necessary to provide scientists and policymakers with a thorough understanding of the effects of acid rain. 

 

The LTM program makes frequent measurements over many years of the chemistry of a set of acidsensitive lakes and streams, allowing scientists to evaluate trends in acidity in these sensitive areas. 

 

The TIME program, by contrast, monitors a statistically chosen sample of lakes and streams once per year, and allows scientists to determine what proportion of the lakes and streams in a region is affected.  Together, the two methods provide a clear picture both of trends in acidity over time and also of its extent over the landscape at any given moment.  Scientists and policymakers need both types of information in order to solve the problem of acid rain.

 

Historically, they have received an annual budget of $800,000 for the two programs combined.  They provide vital information and I ask that you continue this same level of funding in FY08.

 

These two important programs are funded from the Environmental Monitoring and Assessments Program (EMAP) account.  Unfortunately, this account was reduced $1.7 million from FY07 to FY08.  I understand that you will have a very difficult time deciding which budgets of the important programs in this account to cut.  However, TIME and LTM are vitally important and I believe that they must be fully funded.  Furthermore, because their budgets are so small, even a relatively small cut could be devastating to their important mission.

 

Schumer today sent a letter to the top administrator at the EPA, Stephen Johnson, calling on him to fully fund both the TIME and LTM programs.

 

Last week, Senator Schumer announced that he was successful in saving the CASTNET program. The program is designed to give scientists, legislators and environmentalists the data and information they need to better combat acid rain. The program operates 80 monitoring stations throughout the country, including in New York State, and measures surface air quality.   Within CASTNET, the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) partners with state and local governments to operate monitoring stations that measure the amount of "wet acid deposition" - acid rain.   Together, these two programs provide invaluable information to scientists and legislators.

 

The program has historically been funded at approximately $3.9 million through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science and Technology Account, in the Air Quality and Toxins program area. But for 2008, the EPA attempted to slash the program by $1 million in funding and said the money will come directly out of CASTNET's budget.

 

Schumer responded in October by blasting the proposal and sending a letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, under the Senate Committee on Appropriations, calling on it to restore funding at the $3.9 million budget. Following Schumer's letter, funding in the final Omnibus bill that passed Congress and was signed by the President fully funded the program.

 

Twenty years ago, acid rain was devastating the Eastern half of the United States.   Congress, the EPA, state and local governments acknowledged the damage that unregulated emissions of certain acidrainproducing pollutants were having on the environment.   They took decisive action to curtail those emissions, and today, acid rain is not as bad as it once was.   However, in certain parts of the country, acid rain continues to be a major ecological problem.   The Northeast is the region most affected by this problem, with the Adirondacks in Upstate New York being brutally hit. CASTNET, and its subsidiary program NADP have been integral to the EPA's response to acid rain.

 

Acid rain has been attributed to sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), chemicals that can be transported in the wind, causing environmental and health problems hundreds of miles away. Fine particles can pose serious health risks, especially for people with heart or lung disease (including asthma) and older adults and children. Groundlevel ozone can irritate the respiratory system, aggravate asthma, reduce lung capacity and increase people's susceptibility to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis.

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